Education system changes will bring back joy of learning, says Straits Times correspondent at askST@NLB session

The Straits Times senior education correspondent Sandra Davie talks about upcoming changes to the school system, such as a new PSLE scoring system, and how parents can help their children navigate them.
The Straits Times' senior education correspondent Sandra Davie spoke about navigating the recent changes to the school system which will take place over the next few years, and the implications of these changes.
The Straits Times' senior education correspondent Sandra Davie spoke about navigating the recent changes to the school system which will take place over the next few years, and the implications of these changes.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Education is a social leveller. And the recent changes to the education system to place less emphasis on exams will help more children succeed in diverse ways.

These bring back the joy of learning, said The Straits Times' senior education correspondent Sandra Davie.

She was speaking to more than 100 people on Friday (Nov 29) about navigating the recent changes to the school system which will take place over the next few years, and the implications of these changes.

"We are a system that is overly focused on exams… that puts a narrow focus on education objectives. It also takes away all the time you can spend on PE, sports, CCAs, music, dance and others,'' said Ms Davie.

"The recent changes have been great. Everyone has been realising that soft skills are becoming far more important than just the hard skills like reading and numeracy," she added.

The talk at the Central Public Library, part of the askST @ NLB sessions, was organised by The Straits Times and the National Library Board (NLB). The sessions are streamed live on The Straits Times' Facebook page.

At Friday's 90-minute session, Ms Davie explained the big changes that have been put in place in the education system.

Within the primary school level, there has been less emphasis on exams, grades and class or cohort positions and more emphasis on active learning, physical education, arts and nurturing the joy of learning.

From 2021, the PSLE will be scored with wider bands and the scores will reflect the student's individual performance, and not his performance relative to his peers.

"These changes are good as they will emphasise less the individual rankings, which was a stressful system," said Ms Davie. "With the wider banding system, the stress level should be considerably lower."

 
 
 
 

At the secondary school level, students will be introduced to subject-based banding from next year. With subject-based banding, students can study English language, mother tongue languages, mathematics and science at a more demanding level from lower secondary. About 25 schools will start the pilot, with more schools progressively adopting the new subject-based banding system.

Over the years, post-secondary and tertiary institutions have also introduced more aptitude-based admissions, with more focus on helping students discover their individual strengths, said Ms Davie.

"Developing your strengths, interests and your natural talents is becoming a lot more important to help them get into post-secondary institutions," she said.

Last year, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung revealed that 20 per cent of the total admissions for polytechnics - or about 4,600- were under the Early Admissions Exercise, which is an aptitude-based admission.

Parent Daisy Foo attended the talk and found it informative.

The 43-year-old, who has two children in polytechnic, said: "I agree with the changes. It is good to focus on helping their children discover themselves and where their talents and interests lie."

The next askST @ NLB will be held on Dec 13, on the state of the economy and how it affects jobs.

Registration link: https://str.sg/J5ep